At least 19 children and two teachers were killed on Tuesday at the hands of 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a small town in Texas near the Mexican border.
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said, there had already been “horrific attacks” on schools this year in Afghanistan, Ukraine, the United States and West Africa.
“Tragedy after tragedy, shooting after shooting, young life after young life: how many more children will die before government leaders act to keep children and their schools safe? Because until they do, these horrors will continue,” she said in a statement.
Russell emphasised that outside of their home, school is the only place where children should feel most secure.
She noted that in addition to the lives lost, “many more children, teachers and school staff who witnessed the carnage will bear the emotional and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was deeply shocked and saddened by “the heinous mass shooting,” saying it was particularly heart-wrenching that most of the victims are children.
Guterres expressed his deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and to the community as a whole.
UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed expressed her outrage in a post on Twitter.
“When children go to school, they should only be concerned about learning,” she wrote. “Children should not go to school fearing for their lives!”
Mohammed said her sincere prayers were with family, classmates and teachers who were mourning the loss.